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Eat no high cholesterol foods
In fact, eat no cholesterol at all!

People who eat high cholesterol foods usually have high cholesterol levels. People with high cholesterol levels have high rates of heart disease, stroke, and cancer. The evidence is very clear.

Can you name some foods that are high in cholesterol?

Many people say "beef and pork." They are stunned when they learn that chicken and fish contain cholesterol too.

A serving (300 calories) of poultry, fish, or other sea animals has about as much cholesterol as a serving of beef or pork. How can that be?

Because all animals have cholesterol in their cells: every fish in the ocean, every bird in the sky. Cholesterol is an essential part of animal cell membranes. 

Animals could not live without the cholesterol in their bodies.

Animal flesh and cholesterol

 Here is a high cholesterol food list. It shows the cholesterol in 300-calorie portions of common flesh foods:

Type of Animal Flesh Mg Cholesterol Per
 300-Calorie Serving
shrimp 591
crab 294
sardines 205
lobster 189
oysters 184
chicken, white meat, no skin 147
turkey, dark meat, no skin 136
turkey, light meat, no skin 132
chicken, dark meat, no skin 126
beef 122
pork 122
trout 117
salmon 116
herring 114
mackeral 90
tuna 88

Most people know that beef and pork are high cholesterol foods. But a 300-calorie serving of chicken contains more cholesterol than the same serving of beef or pork. And the popular "high omega 3" varieties of fish have almost as much cholesterol as beef and pork. Salmon has 95% as much cholesterol as beef. Even tuna contains a hefty dose of cholesterol.

Cholesterol in eggs and dairy products

Just like animal flesh, most animal secretions contain cholesterol. Here is another high cholesterol food chart. It shows the amount of cholesterol in a 300-calorie portion of eggs or dairy products:

Egg or Dairy Product Mg Cholesterol Per
300-Calorie Serving
egg yolk 1168
whole egg 887
butter 90
cream (half and half) 85
sour cream 81
mozzarella cheese 79
cheddar cheese 78
ice cream 64
whole milk yogurt 64
whole milk 50
low fat milk, 2% fat 48
low fat milk, 1% fat 36
cottage cheese, 2% fat 35
cottage cheese, 1% fat 17
nonfat milk, skim 17
nonfat yogurt, skim 11
egg white 0

Egg white is the only animal product that is cholesterol-free. However, there is no good reason to eat egg whites. Get your protein from plants. There are many excellent vegan protein sources.

Don't buy nonfat dairy products just because they are lower in cholesterol. Why?
  • They all contain cholesterol. Even small amounts can harm our health.

  • Dairy products contain a lot of saturated fat, which raises cholesterol levels.

  • Casein, the main dairy protein, also raises blood cholesterol levels. There is a lot of casein in skim milk and in other nonfat dairy products.
There are many more reasons to follow a dairy free diet. And there are plant substitutes for every dairy product. Also see our section on vegan foods for reviews of non-dairy milks, cheeses, and ice cream.

Don't we need some cholesterol in our diet?

Humans make about 1000 mg of cholesterol per day, which is all we need and all we can handle. If we eat any cholesterol at all, our bodies have a hard time getting rid of it. Avoid all foods high in cholesterol. But be aware that there are other causes of high cholesterol, and not all of them are animal foods.

Government guidelines say we should limit our intake to no more than 300 mg of cholesterol per day. Sadly, lobbyists from the animal food industries influenced the people who wrote the guidelines. So, 300 mg is the maximum, and there is no minimum. The maximum should be 0 mg. Vegans don't eat any cholesterol at all. For optimal health, no one should.

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